Preschool Language Assessment Instrument - Second Edition (PLAI-2)

Ages: 3-0 through 5-11
Testing Time: 30 minutes
Administration: Individual

The Preschool Language Assessment Instrument - Second Edition (PLAI-2) is a revision of a classic test, which assesses children's abilities to meet the demand of classroom discourse. Normed on a sample of 463 children residing in 16 states, PLAI-2 tells you how effectively a child integrates cognitive, linguistic and pragmatic components to deal with the full range of adult-child exchange. Teachers, speech-language clinicians, and those in special education will appreciate the ease-of-use and multi-faceted information this test provides.

Types of Assessments

The PLAI-2 provides two types of assessments:

  • a norm-referenced (formal) assessment
  • a nonstandarized (informal) assessment

The Norm-Referenced Assessment

  • Discourse Ability Score: overall estimate of performance
  • Six Subtests: four assessing levels of abstraction; two assessing modes of response.

These are measured through items requiring:

  1. Matching-the close linking of verbal and perceptual information (e.g., What is this? or Find me the. . .)
  2. Analysis-the identification and/or combining of perceptual components (e.g., How are these different?, What is happening in this picture?)
  3. Reordering-the reduction or restructuring of salient perceptual cues (e.g., Which one is NOT a . . . ?, How are these [different object] the same?)
  4. Reasoning-the prediction of events and the justification of ideas (e.g. What will happen if . . .? How do you know that . . .?)
  5. Receptive Mode-a nonverbal response
  6. Expressive Mode-a verbal response

The Nonstandardized Assessment

  • Two Pragmatic Measures
  1. Adequacy of Response-Evaluates the quality of the child's expressive language on a four-category scale: Fully Adequate, Acceptable, Ambiguous, and Inadequate
  2. Interfering Behaviors-quantifies two major patterns of behavior that hamper interaction: underresponsive (e.g., whispered responses) and overresponsive (e.g., extraneous actions)

Uses of the PLAI-2

  • Permits early identification of children with language and communication difficulties that might impede current or later classroom performance
  • Serves as a guide for structuring teaching or therapy to match preschoolers' levels of functioning
  • Allows comparison of a child's receptive and expressive discourse skills across four levels of abstraction
  • Delineates pragmatic behaviors that interfere with effective communication
  • Assesses discourse ability in children who have minimal or no expressive language
  • Evaluates the effectiveness of intervention efforts

Features of the PLAI-2

  • Characteristics of the total normative sample relative to socioeconomic factors, gender, disability, and other critical variables are the same as those reported in the Statistical Abstract of the United States (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1999) and therefore are representative of the current U.S. population.
  • The normative information has been stratified by age.
  • Studies showing the absence of gender, racial, and ethnic bias have been provided.
  • Reliability coefficients are provided for subgroups of the normative sample (e.g., individuals with disabilities, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, gender groups) as well as for the entire normative sample.
  • Many validity studies have been conducted; special attention has been devoted to showing that the test is valid for a wide variety of subgroups as well as for the general population.
  • The original black-and-white line drawings have been replaced with full-color illustrations that have been updated with increased gender and ethnic representation.
  • Each item on the test was re-evaluated using both conventional item analyzes to choose "good" items and differential item functioning analysis to find and eliminate potentially biased items.
  • The Receptive Subtest is sufficiently comprehensive and reliable that examiners can have confidence in its score when testing children with limited speech.
  • Easy-to-use scales have been added to permit examiners to gain a fuller understanding of the pragmatics aspect of a child's communication.


  • Examiner's Manual
  • Picture Book
  • 25 Profile/Examiner Record Booklet-3 year olds
  • 25 Profile/Examiner Record Booklet-4/5 year olds
  • all in a sturdy storage box.


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